Top stories for Nov. 3, 2009
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Conservation-boosting bill, vital waterfowl habitat bills become law
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) will be allocated a record funding level from Congress, as the President signed the Interior Appropriations bill for the 2010 fiscal year on Saturday. NAWCA is being appropriated $45.6 million, a $2.5 million increase over the 2009 funding level. The funding match requirement for NAWCA means the program will put at least $5 million of habitat on the ground over 2009 levels.
Other waterfowl programs that benefited from the new budget are the Neotropical Migratory Bird Act and the National Wildlife Refuge System, which saw an increase of more than $40 million to the operations and maintenance budget. Maintaining National Wildlife Refuges is critical to waterfowl, as many use the areas to breed and winter across the country. The funding increase will help U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service staff continue to eliminate invasive species and improving habitat.
In addition to the Interior Appropriations bill, a piece of historic legislation aimed at the restoring the Great Lakes was signed by President Obama after the House and Senate approved the measure last week. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will provide $475 million for a comprehensive program to restore and protect the Great Lakes. DU staff in the Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office has been working with a wide array of partners to make this funding a reality. The Great Lakes are a high priority for Ducks Unlimited, and as a production area provide waterfowl to the eastern half of the country.
"Congress and the President have delivered on their promise to help protect and restore one of our national treasures," said Dr. Robert Hoffman, director of Ducks Unlimited's Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office. "We are grateful to all of the Great Lakes partners and Congressional and Administration champions for making this funding a reality."
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was proposed by the President to address the most serious issues that face the Great Lakes. Loss of habitat, invasive species, nonpoint source pollution, and toxic sediments threaten the health and economic well being of residents and damages the United States' largest fresh water resource. Program administrators have a valuable document in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, a blueprint developed by more than 1,500 people representing governmental, industry, and nonprofit groups to set priorities and identify needs, which will receive funding for its most pressing programs.
"DU has been working with our federal, state and conservation partners to develop a list of habitat conservation projects that will protect and restore thousands of acres in the Great Lakes watershed," said Hoffman. "DU is poised to act and put more habitat on the ground and in the water so that our ducks, geese and swans, other wildlife and citizens can reap the benefits."
DU testifies for clean water
Ducks Unlimited testified in Albany to support legislation to increase the New York Department of Environment and Conservation's authority over freshwater wetlands. Sen. Antoine Thompson, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation, held a hearing to reform New York's wetland regulations, which currently do not protect wetlands smaller than 12.4 acres. Sen. Thompson hopes to move forward with legislation early next year to protect "isolated" wetlands that currently have no protections due to the SWANCC and Rapanos Supreme Court decisions.
DU also has been involved in restoration efforts to restore the protections lost after the Supreme Court cases on a national scale. Please take a moment to encourage your members of Congress to support restoring Clean Water Act protections to geographically isolated wetlands.
Conservation policy interns needed
Ducks Unlimited's Government Affairs Office is seeking two conservation policy interns to begin work before Jan. 1, 2010. Intern candidates should be extremely motivated workers, possess excellent verbal and written communication skills, demonstrate above-average computer skills and be able to work independently with minimal supervision. Knowledge of wildlife conservation, wetlands, congressional process and/or agriculture policy and practices is a plus. Work emphasis will be on communications and legislative process.
Our interns are responsible for assisting professional staff in promoting public policy initiatives affecting wetlands, waterfowl and agricultural conservation. Our interns gain valuable Capitol Hill and nonprofit experience through supporting efforts to educate members of Congress on the positive effects of conservation legislation and concepts.
Please send a cover letter and résumé to Whitney Tawney at firstname.lastname@example.org.